Like many business owners, long-time friends Meredith Barnett and Cristina Miller got the idea to start Store Adore from their own frustrations with shopping online. "When I Googled 'little black dress,' the options that came up were never what I was looking for," says Miller, 30.
Fresh off a February launch, New York City-based Store Adore (storeadore.com) is forging a path by connecting women with boutique retailers both online and off. The site combines editorial, boutique/store profiles, user-generated reviews, exclusive deals and a community for shopping enthusiasts.
Given women's tremendous purchasing power, it's no surprise that many startups are getting off the ground by focusing on the needs and wants of women. The key is to learn as much as possible about these consumers so you can cater your business to their needs.
Store Adore's founders have discovered that community is more important than social networking to their audience of avid women shoppers. Thanks to sites like MySpace and Facebook, their visitors already have places where they do their social networking.
"What has been really successful in terms of the community is the ability to make custom maps, choose stores as your favorites and [read] reviews," says Barnett, 30. "We're separating community from social networking and making a distinction." In June, Store Adore did a major overhaul of its website in response to feedback from customers.
In addition, the company partners with sites that cater to women to create buzz. "Partnerships are a fantastic way to get our brand and our name out there and attract users and traffic," says Miller. "When we think about our partnerships and marketing opportunities, we obviously end up working with other companies that are focused on women."
The two find that adding a personal touch to the site helps them reach out to their customers. "Our user base of women seems to respond very well to personalization," says Miller. "We show them who's behind the business. It's a nice way to approach your customers."
In the future, Barnett and Miller are looking to scale out the company, which is on track to top $150,000 in sales this year. "We hope to grow it to other categories like teen shopping or pets," says Barnett. "Eventually, we would like to sell the company, but it's not something we're trying to do right now."
In the meantime, Store Adore is keeping busy by adding new boutiques, fine-tuning its community functions and building the business into an online destination for women shoppers.